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Inscribe writers make Poetry School Books of the Year list

'It’s been a superb year for "little shapelets" and their "sprinkling of white space",' begins Martha Sprackland in her intro to The Poetry School's Best Books of 2018.

Any Change: Poetry in a Hostile Environment, edited by Leeds poet Ian Duhig, includes a number of Inscribe-supported writers past and present. Khadijah Ibrahiim, Adam Lowe, Sai Murray and Seni Seneviratne all have work published in the anthology. They are joined by Peepal Tree poet Vahni Capildeo.

Any Change?, edited by Ian Duhig, is a modest (in size, certainly not in spirit) anthology published with the financial support of the Forward Arts Foundation in reaction to the Windrush scandal. It interrogates the growing indifference of the British government towards the immigrant communities in need, as well as the the deteriorating state of this country’s social care. What is special about this collection is the range of authors that it brings together, from internationally recognised writers to amateur poets just starting their journey, for whom poetry has become a way out of the reality of racism, homelessness, mental illnesses and impoverishment. But what makes Any Change? so important right now is the fact that it is not restricted to tackling the issue of social disadvantage from distance; instead, it gives voice to those who suffer from it, makes them visible and present in the general discourse and allows them to transform it with their own narratives.

The Yorkshire Times also wrote a positive review. Some highlights:

The volume is infused with the kind of ambiguity you might expect from a relationship that has been characterised by mixed messages of both welcome and thinly-worn abhorrence. Elsewhere, a backward glance into the waters of the colonial past is a means of coming to terms with the present, except that ancestral experience has to be renegotiated as an emollient:

‘ I scour the stony skeletons, bone-grafting
one story with another. It’s no good. I want the journey I never had,

with the old man my father never became.’ (Seni Seneviratne – ‘Where a River Meets the Sea’)

Kennaway’s métier is reinvented in Adam Lowe’ fine poem of restorative commemoration, ‘Bone Railroad’, whilst renowned poet Vahni Capildeo gives reinvigorated meaning to a process of deracination through the occluding glass of dementia, as though the gradual loss of a sense of self was a metaphor for the alienating monotony of the night shift, and for the depredations of cultural dislocation. The threadbare repetition and conflated imagery underline a frightening incoherence, established in the poem’s title, ‘Which Way Up?’: ‘His factory makes plastic cups. / He’s frightened by memory loss.’

The anthology was supported by the Forward Arts Foundation.

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